Fifty arrested in crackdown on Sunderland shoplifters

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FIFTY people have been arrested in just five days in a huge crackdown on Sunderland shoplifters.

Week two of Operation Soundwave has seen city police focus their efforts on retail crime.

Officers have been targeting the busiest shopping areas, including The Bridges in Sunderland and The Galleries in Washington.

And, as of yesterday, more than 50 people had been arrested, the city’s acting Chief Inspector Jamie Southwell told the Echo.

“This week’s focus has been around retail crime and we’ve had a very successful week within Sunderland area command,” he said.

“We’ve managed to execute 18 search warrants, which have led to a lot of seizures of stolen property, drugs, weapons and stun guns.

“We’ve also made a significant number of arrests of what I would class as target offenders, people who we know are out there causing harm in the communities.”

Mr Southwell said his teams had been concentrating on stores which were particularly prone to shoplifting.

Those caught will have a bail condition not to enter the area where they were arrested, to ensure the do not return and re-offend.

“We are having some focused patrols by members of various different teams who are in high-visibility uniforms,” he said.

“But we also have staff out patrolling in plain clothes.

“They are targeting key retail premises where we tend to have the highest volume of offences, and they’re also going out targeting individuals of whom we have intelligence that they commit the highest number of shoplifting offences.”

On Wednesday, officers in Washington raided nine houses and arrested four men and a woman on suspicion of drug offences.

Next week officers working on the operation will concentrate their efforts on tackling metal theft.